On World Meteorological Day, UN rallies youth to take on climate change

Ice weather in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: WMO/Elena Manaenkova

23 March 2014 – Seeking to increase awareness among young people about climate change and mobilize them as champions for action, the United Nations is marking this year's World Meteorological Day with a call for more young people – especially women – to become meteorologists, a profession which makes a vital contribution to the safety and well-being of society.

“Weather and Climate: Engaging Youth” is this year's theme for the Day, and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) noted that today's youth will benefit from the dramatic advances being made in the ability to understand and forecast the Earth's weather and climate. Most will live into the second half of this century and experience the increasing impacts of climate change.

“Atmosphere and ocean temperatures continue to increase, ice caps and glaciers around the world are steadily declining, sea level is rising and a number of extreme weather and climate events are becoming more frequent and/or more intense,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

“Maintaining our current dependence on fossil fuels will lead us to a significantly warmer planet: by the end of the century the temperature could be up to 4 degrees Celsius higher than in pre-industrial times. Limiting the warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius can still be achieved, but it will require a rapid significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Achieving this objective demands urgent, decisive and courageous action. The world's youth can be a powerful actor of change in this regard. Climate action is not just about CO2 emissions, it is about people, about the values we share and what each of us is ready to do to promote them. Young people are a source of innovation and of fresh insights into problems and their possible solutions. They call for just, equitable solutions,” said Mr. Jarraud.

“While the challenges facing the next generations are enormous, the opportunities for addressing them have never been greater,” he said.

In order to help increase understanding of weather and climate, WMO revamped its Youth Corner ahead of World Meteorological Day. It is available in English, French, Chinese and Spanish, and is being translated into Arabic and Russian. WMO has also updated its book “A Career in Meteorology” to encourage more young people to enter into this varied and challenging profession.

Ahmed Alhendawi, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Envoy on Youth, said the focus on youth was timely. “Youth represent the majority of populations in many countries around the world and have an increasingly strong social and environment awareness and they have the power to transform our societies to low carbon and climate resilient future,” he said in a video message.

“We need to strengthen formal and informal education about climate change, promote sustainability and support youth to become environmental champions in their own communities. We must ensure that youth are ready to join the emerging green economies around the world. Let's remember there is always a Plan B, but there is no Planet B.”


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